Humanitarian action aims to come to the aid of vulnerable people where lives are threatened, where vital needs are not satisfied, and where the most basic rights are trampled upon.
The international humanitarian system today brings together a great variety of actors, including non- governmental organizations, international organizations, private institutions with permanent international mandates, economic operators and States. All these actors often assume multiform responsibilities in organizing assistance for populations which are victims of armed conflict or natural disasters on the international humanitarian scene. Whilst they often have specific rules of engagement or differing practices, they may also have to work in concert within complex operational configurations, and thus coordinate their efforts with the aim of achieving greater effectiveness.
France considers humanitarian action to be primarily the expression of vital solidarity with victims of disasters and armed conflicts. However, State intervention in the area of international humanitarian action is also justified from an operational point of view, particularly in situations of extreme urgency where non-State actors rarely have the capacity to act immediately with the necessary resources. Lastly, humanitarian action is one dimension of France’s diplomatic action, supporting democracy, advocating the application of International Humanitarian Law (IHL), campaigning in international forums in support of economic and social development of the least developed countries (LDCs), and calling for greater equity and solidarity in relations between the North and the South.
France’s humanitarian action is part of the comprehensive framework of development assistance in the largest sense. Over the years, France has thus reaffirmed its commitment to respect the Paris Principles for Aid Effectiveness, taken into account the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Fragile States Principles (FSPs) and relentlessly supported the efforts of the United Nations to make humanitarian aid more effective and better coordinate. France’s action in the humanitarian sphere is also closely tied to its Policy Paper on Fragile States and Situations of Fragility (2007), to its declared policy in terms of food security (2010) and to its cooperation and development strategy (2011).
France intends to draw up a national humanitarian strategy organized around three focuses:
meet the needs of populations wherever they are, focusing always on countries or groups of countries in situations of critical urgency;
make humanitarian action part of a comprehensive framework, linking it both to a development strategy aimed at building local capacities and to actions of prevention and enhancement of population resilience;
periodically reassess the relevance of choices which are made through exchanges between State humanitarian policy officials and civil society representatives, with this assessment taking into account not only implementedhumanitarian operations but also observed legal developments, in addition to anticipating needs insofar as is possible.
Drawn up in liaison with representatives of the third sector and partner administrations of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the French humanitarian strategy will be implemented from 2012-2017. A mid-term review will take place in 2014.